What's the role of temporality in the art making process?

The concept of time has been at the center of artistic expression, from the quick-painted strokes by the impressionists to the observation of time in relation to space by Bruce Nauman; time has both served as a catapult for new viewpoints to emerge as well as a multilayered subject for deeper investigation. The way artists understood time in the context of their practice has always reflected the dynamics between the artist and the outside demands of the world, either through contemplation or intervention. 

As we live in an ever-changing and incredibly accelerated world and our social experiences are mediated by frenetic demands, how does the lack or abundance of time affect the artistic practice? 

Here are some main points to consider:



First, it's important to think about the ways in which time has found its way into artistic practice and how artists have attempted to portray the abstract and invisible nature of time through visual arts. Secondly, the act of contemplating an artwork is also interchangeable as the work itself changes over time, gaining new perceptions and meanings. Nagel and Wood (2010) argued that works of art always "inhabit plural temporalities", as an artwork is made by someone at a particular point in time, but refers to ideas or events that often preceded that moment, or point to an imagined future. (Serafini & Banks).



While artists work under increasingly time-constrained conditions, having to be self-resourceful most of the time and produce work for specific formats and platforms (a portfolio, a website or social media), is there any room left for wonder and slow experimentation? 

As our digital environments grow more complex, the need for putting out work that is relevant to the current times seems to be the only "right" way to make art. But if the relevant topics are constantly changing and it's impossible to keep up with its speed, is there any time left to let ideas fully develop? How can artists experiment with the esoteric nature of the creative process in today's world?



The lack of time when it comes to visual arts impacts not only the creator but the viewer as well. As for the viewer, do we still have the proper amount of time for contemplation? Are we intentionally looking at art or are we merely glimpsing? What's the ideal length of time for the aesthetic experience? 

We will be exploring these issues for the next few weeks, stay tuned!


Image: Diego Rivera, Sunset


Nagel, Alexander & Wood, Christopher (2010): Anachronic Renaissance, New York: Zone Books.

Serafini, Paula & Banks, Mark (2020): Living Precarious Lives? Time and Temporality in Visual Arts Careers